Mr. Sensitive is four years old. He will be celebrating his fifth birthday in a few days. This party will be a big kindergarten status-pumping event where a bunch of sugar-crazed four and five year olds take over an indoor play space and drive some poor underpaid staff person crazy. I am looking forward to it, actually.
No one prepared Mr. Sensitive or me for the huge social roller coaster that is kindergarten. Mr. Sensitive started junior kindergarten this year – within the first two weeks he was coming home upset because he was not invited to so-and-so’s birthday party.
It did not matter that neither he or I actually knew the kid, he was upset because he was not invited. He’s four, and feeling the acute pain of social rejection.
How does a parent prepare a child for that?
Whiz through an entire school year with a bunch of birthdays marked on the kindergarten calendar and only one party invite. 28 kids and only one party invite? Never mind actually playing with kids after school – we have become kindergarten hermits. We’ve never had a playdate either.
Our family is always out at the local parks and libraries and we meet kids in Mr. Sensitive’s class all the time. He loves playing with them, when we bump into them. But he does not have a single friend outside of school.
Mr. Sensitive is a very sociable child with a bunch of special needs (SPD, DMD). But he’s still a kid. Mr. Sensitive’s dissolved in a sea of tears when his ‘best friends’ (aka bunch of kids he’s just met) left the playground. He’s sobbed, but they were my best friends as he waves goodbye.
Outside of kindergarten, Mr. Sensitive does not really have best friends.
One of the big problems we face as a family is we have no relatives nearby or really involved in our lives. Mr. Sensitive does have a couple cousins, but I think he last saw them a couple years ago. Which is a shame, because they are the same age.
I put my social networking skills to the test and tried to set up playdates, and nothing really happens. Mr. Sensitive still does not have best friends to hang out with outside of school. He’s spending his days watching the Backyardigans on Netflix. He loves the show, because all the characters are friends.
So he’s excited about his birthday party, because he gets to invite friends. For once, he’s in some sort of control of a social situation. We will see how the party unfolds (and yes, as the ever anxious mama I am terrified no one will show up – yes, that’s my own fear of rejection raising it’s head. How much social rejection can a child deal with?)
But, I have actually spoken to many parents who assured me that they and their kids will attend the party. And yes, I’ve increased the odds by inviting 20 plus kindergarteners, so hopefully half a dozen will attend.
Because, what my son wants most of all for his birthday, is a friend.